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Elena Kagan: former solicitors general back Supreme Court nominee

Elena Kagan was the first woman solicitor general – the government’s top lawyer at the Supreme Court. Former solicitors general have written a letter endorsing the Supreme Court nominee.

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Kagan worked as a law clerk for Marshall, and he became a mentor. She later taught law at the University of Chicago and Harvard, where she became the first woman to serve as dean of the law school. Upon her confirmation, Kagan became the first woman to serve as solicitor general.

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Some critics have suggested that Kagan is not fully qualified to sit as a justice on the nation’s highest court since she has never served as a judge. Supporters counter that her experience during the past year preparing and arguing cases as solicitor general has prepared her well to become a justice.

“It is hard to imagine a position that would lead to an easier transition to Supreme Court justice than to work as the solicitor general,” said Paul Clement, solicitor general during the George W. Bush administration.

In addition to Waxman and Mr. Clement, Kagan received the endorsement of Charles Fried, Kenneth Starr, Drew Days III, Walter Dellinger, Theodore Olson, and Gregory Garre.

“The Constitution gives the president broad leeway in fulfilling the enormously important responsibility of determining who to nominate for a seat on the Supreme Court,” the former solicitors general said in their letter. “In that spirit, we support the nomination of Elena Kagan to be associate justice and believe that, if confirmed, she will serve on the court with distinction, as have prior solicitor generals who have had that great honor.”

The letter supports the view that service as solicitor general is excellent preparation for a Supreme Court justice.

“The job of solicitor general provides an opportunity to grapple with almost the full gamut of issues that come before the Supreme Court,” the letter says. “The constant interaction with the Supreme Court that comes with being the most frequent litigator before the court also ensures an appreciation for the rhythms and traditions of the court and its workload.”

IN PICTURES: Justices with no prior judicial experience